Report: Google to unveil new ‘Google Fit’ health tracking service at I/O 2014

Photo: Associated Press

Photo: Associated Press

According to a report out of Forbes, Google is planning on launching its own health platform at Google I/O later this month, similar to Apple’s new HealthKit service. The service will reportedly be called Google Fit and be capable of collecting and aggregating data from a variety of wearable devices and apps. Sound familiar? It should, because that’s exactly how Apple’s HealthKit service, announced last week, works.

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Undeterred by Galaxy Gear failure, Samsung planning to launch more wearables

samsung_galaxy_gear

Samsung’s entry into the world of wearable tech may not have been terribly successful, with dreadful reviews and reportedly poor sales, but the company seems undeterred, promising more wearables this year, reports re/code.

“2014 is actually going to be a really big year,” said Dennis Miloseski, head of studio for Samsung Design America. “We are planning some products around the launch of our flagship devices.”

Samsung’s US design team does appear aware that the company needs to work a lot harder on the aesthetics as well as the functionality …  Read more

Deal with Gorilla Glass maker Corning could give Samsung head-start in new display technology

MOnA- RHP-Sunbeam

Samsung could see itself getting priority access to new glass technologies after taking a 7.4 percent stake in Gorilla Glass maker Corning and simultaneously signing a 10-year supply agreement.

The net effect of a complex series of share swaps and cash investments, allied to a long-term procurement commitment from Samsung, is a $2B deal that will enable Corning to boost its R&D investment, accelerating the pace of development of new types of display.

With closer cooperation between the two companies, Samsung may prove well positioned to gain access to those new technologies ahead of the rest of the market …  Read more

Google patent details Project Glass(es) gestures controlled with rings and tattoos

At this point, at the very least, we already know that Google’s augmented reality glasses are capable of snapping a photo. However, we do not have much of an idea of how the UI might work other than what is in the initial concept video. Our sources previously indicated that Google was using a “head tilting-to scroll and click” for navigation of the user interface. Today, we get a look out how the company is experimenting with alternative methods of input for the glasses from a patent recently granted by the United States Patent & Trademark Office and detailed by PatentBolt.

According to the report, the highlight of the patent is how Google’s glasses could work with hand gestures. The patent described various hand-wearable markers, such as a ring, invisible tattoo, or a woman’s fingernail, which could be detected by the glasses’ IR camera, to “track position and motion of the hand-wearable item within a FOV of the HMD.” In other words, the wearable marker, in whatever form factor, would allow the glasses to pick up hand gestures. The report also noted multiple markers could be used to perform complex gestures involving several fingers or both hands:
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Google X’s wearable technology isn’t an iPod Nano, but rather a heads up display (glasses)

Google Goggles gets a new meaning

The New York Times today relayed an open secret among some in the Google community: the company is working on wearable technology in its secret off-campus Google X lair.  However, the technology we have heard about is not the watch-type variety as described (although, we would be surprised if Google was not working on that technology, too):

Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google’s case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.)

In Google’s secret Google X labs, researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone.

People familiar with the work in the lab say Google has hired electronic engineers from Nokia Labs, Apple and engineering universities who specialize in tiny wearable computers.

While Apple may be focusing on iPod nano-like watches, Google seems to be pushing ahead in heads-up displays. We first brought news that prominent wearables PhD Richard DuVaul moved from Apple to Google in June.  His research is focused on wearable heads up displays (HUDs).

His dissertation was on “The Memory Glasses“, a heads-up display  focused on the problems associated with wearable memory support technology. This included hardware and software architectures, and low-attention human-computer interaction for wearable computing, including the use of subliminal visual cues for just-in-time memory support.

Our source tells us that this is what Google is building.  They are in late prototype stages of wearable glasses that look similar to thick-rimmed glasses that “normal people” wear.  However, these provide a display with a heads up computer interface.  There are a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken for normal glasses.  Additionally, we are not sure of the technology being employed here, but it is likely a transparent LCD or AMOLED display such as the one demonstrated below:

In addition, we have heard that this device is not an “Android peripheral” as the NYT stated.  According to our source, it communicates directly with the Cloud over IP. Although, the “Google Goggles”  could use a phone’s Internet connection, through Wi-Fi or a low power Bluetooth 4.0.

The use-case is augmented reality that would tie into Google’s location services.  A user can walk around with information popping up and into display -Terminator-style- based on preferences, location and Google’s information.

Therefore, these things likely connect to the Internet and have GPS.  They also likely run a version of Android.

Google VP Marisa Mayer recently talked to Jason Kincaid about serendipity and location back in May:

This would be a great tie in to this system.  Instead of actual inputs, this system could just pull information as it becomes available and shoot it to the screen when the information was desired.

We do not have a release date for this new device, but we know that Google Co-founder Sergey Brin is closely associated with the project and it will be Google-branded hardware.

Google representatives couldn’t comment on rumors and speculation.

Wearables expert Richard DeVaul jumps ship from Apple to Google

Richard DeVaul, a PhD. scientist from MIT with a focus on building wearable technologies, was snared from Apple this month by Google.  At Apple he was rumored to be working with SVP of Industrial Design, Jonny Ive in Apple’s secret labs building the next big thing.

Besides his having knowledge of the inter-workings of Apple, it is also interesting that DeVaul is a hardware person who has focused on building wearable products for the past decade.  Google has been a software company for all of its existence, but more and more it appears that it will enter the hardware business…but probably in smart accessories rather than phones.

He’ll likely join two former Danger hardware experts in a new Google lab called Google Hardware where his Job Description of “Rapid idea evaluation and prototyping for new projects at Google. ” seems to fit in with Joel Britt and Matt Hershenson are doing.

I wrote about DeVaul’s transition to Apple at Computerworld 18 months ago, excerpted below:

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